|This is Greg, in the white gi, back when he was a purple belt.|
I wasn’t intending to roll at the end of Jiu-Jitsu yesterday, my injured wrist had gotten tweaked earlier in class and it was hurting, so I was just going to sit out for open mat. Then Greg, our BJJ black belt instructor, asked me to roll, and I’d never grappled with him before, so how could I say no?! I have to admit that in a way I’ve always been a little bit intimidated by him. He’s a super nice guy, and I’ve never been afraid of him hurting me or anything like that, I just felt like if I grappled with him he would really be able to see how much I don’t know, and then I would feel totally stupid!
I actually told him that I was nervous, and I’m sure he could tell because I was pretty tense. It’s taken me a long time to be able relax at all when I grapple, and rolling with Greg made me revert back to over-thinking mode. He just took it slow and tried to help me understand why things were and weren’t working. After he swept me he asked me why I thought he was able to do it, and it surprised me that I knew the answer (but I didn’t realize it until he pointed it out to me).
|This is not Greg, it’s Milton, chilling on a beach.|
Whenever I watch Greg grapple, one of the things that has always stood out to me is how relaxed he is. Seriously, he’ll be rolling with the biggest, strongest guys who are grunting and panting, and he just looks like he’s sitting on a beach somewhere drinking an Armbar Ale! I believe relaxation is a large part of why he is able to sense the slightest change in his partner’s balance, direction, or even breathing, and capitalize on it. Greg doesn’t use strength, he doesn’t have to because he knows much more efficient ways to get what he wants, and he’s relaxed enough to take full advantage of them. Relaxation, and not relying on strength, also keep him from tiring out as soon.
It’s generally hard enough for me to relax when people are not tossing me around like a rag doll and trying to break my limbs or choke the breath out of me, so that is an area I still need a lot of work on, but when I can see that relaxation is the very thing which may actually help prevent people from being able to do anything to me, it’s importance becomes very clear. I think that if I’d been more relaxed when I was rolling with Greg yesterday, it would have helped me to better feel some of the things he was trying to point out to me. In my own experience, the more relaxed I am, the better I grapple. Someday I hope to be able to be as relaxed as Greg is…just chilling on a beach somewhere, submitting some dudes.